Inclusivity is for Everyone-Part 2


Part 2 of Matthew’s chat with Darice de Cuba about accessibility, inclusivity, and a little bit about the important topic of mental health. Something that we should all be talking more about.


Darice: So I think, yes, we have to think about strategy, of how to make people aware on all levels of a business why it's important, and what do you gain from it? Because we all want to know what we gain from something. And I still say it doesn't cost that much if you do it from day one. I stand by that, I stand by that. I mean, I'm old school, we started doing HTML way back, so. I loved doing HTML from scratch, no REACT coding and stuff... But it's hard, I mean, I don't use REACT so some people say, yes you can do REACT fully accessible, but even so, it's still just code, it's not our experience. And a start-up tech's base communication is not code.

Matthew: As an aside, I think REACT and similar frameworks are ruining people's ability to code, in a way, because they are too abstracted from the basic structure of the web.

Darice: Oh man, you don't know, I get you, I get you, yes. I mean, the whole CSS and JS discussion is blown out of proportion, but I don't believe, if you are going to code a website, you have to learn how tofrom scratch. Especially CSS. And when people tell me CSS is hard, I have a hard time believing them because sometimes I think it's too easy, but but I do understand, if you are used to starting with a framework, and then try and go to the root language, you're going to have trouble with it. And I mean, CSS, I saw Eric Meyer's latest book on CSS, like a thousand pages or so. I don't know everything that's in that book, I mean, every day I'm still looking up stuff I cannot remember all that and even CSS is like getting so big that soon you have to split it off because you've got the whole part of animation, that's very complicated. I mean, I have seen some code pens, with what they can do with CSS only and wow, my mind is blown. But in my daily shop, I am not making animations. I'm making you your website, and I need to have a good layout that works everywhere. So, yes, I'm learning that and using that but once I did okay, actually looked at REACT, people talk about REACT, let me look at that code. And I just got a bad feeling from it, because it's just not plain HTML you're looking at anymore. So I'm thinking is REACT still gonna be this big in five, six years? That's what I'm wondering because it's just a framework. Yeah.. So JavaScript? Good thing, yes. Vanilla JavaScript, good thing. But REACT is still just a framework and even worse, one that came out of Facebook, right?

Matthew: Right

Darice: So phase framework, in my experience, is that that coding work on website frameworks have come and gone, but HTML is still here, and CSS is still here, and JavaScript is still here. So to put all your eggs in the bath with you, REACT or Angular, or I don't know what.

Matthew: The purpose of web standards was to not put all our eggs in one basket.

Darice: And I mean, choose your tools correctly. Don't just throw tools at everything.

Matthew: Well, that's one of my pet peeves, is people's obsessions with tools versus a focus on what exactly is the outcome we are trying to, how do I spell achieve?

Darice: Right there's all the tools and people get into fights on Twitter about which tool is better. I stay out of it. I'm sure that REACT may have its purpose. I can imagine there are cases when you should use REACT or Angular, sure. But when I see people setting up a simple website and are gonna use REACT for it, I'm like, why? Yeah, it's hard, I don't know, I don't know, I'm like, what's gonna, I'm really wondering where we will be in five years. I'm really wondering about that.

Matthew: So, I have a question. What do you want to accomplish or help shift in the next five years? 

Darice: Well, obviously the personal goal for me is creating awareness, and I'd like to see that especially hospitals are more accessible to everyone. I mean, we are already stressed going to the hospital, and then we have to deal with things not being possible because, it's just the way we do things. So I think, for me, it's just more awareness that not everyone has to face to lack hearing and disability. I want more awareness of that. I think yeah, just that, and and that I can just order food, because I can put in that box that I'm deaf

Matthew: Text me.

Darice: Right, text me and... But other than that, I'm someone that really focuses into the future and I'm very much a person of right now. I am sure we all hope things are better in five years, but not that I'm going to focus so much because how much control do we actually have over what will happen in five years, right? I mean, I'm just one person in a tiny Dutch country, but I do, I write blogs, I keep writing my blog, making my voice heard. I think just be outspoken about what we believe in and just don't lose patience. I sometimes feel I'm losing patience. I don't know about you, but sometimes it's like an uphill battle, like I said. And even trying to explain to people and... So it takes a lot of energy and a lot of, okay, let's do this again, deep breath and keep going and explain to people, and I like writing about this. While I'm good at writing this stuff, I'm very bad at coming up with the idea, what should I write about, right? Because it's thatthing, right? Because in my own way, I have a hard time thinking about what other people, how do I say this? Like, when I explain to people about that website with ordering food and a box, many people are like, oh right, right, I hadn't thought about that. So I have a hard time putting myself in other peoples shoes, why they don't know this, that it's missing, because I have been deaf for, it's now 10, 11 years? So I don't really think actually about something that's not working because I have to learn to adjust myself to this hearing world, to adjust to what is built for hearing people only. Do you understand this? So I'm adjusting myself and I have difficulty with turning myself around. I don't think people really realize, it just is not working. So I hope that, I think I'm bad at getting those things to write about, where to start. Like, I wrote about the train. I don't know how the train system is in the United States

Matthew: It's terrible, it's--

Darice: Okay well, we have better trains than the US in the sense that just kind of just that there's that much focus on public transportation. I mean, you can get everywhere on public transportation, that's not a problem. But the problem is for example, that, how do you call that man that, I forgot the word in English, just want to speak my own language. The conductor, right. So here, the conductors blows on the whistle when the doors are going to close. So it's an issue when he blows on the whistle, you should not get anymore on the train because you can get stuck between the closing doors. And if you try and he's in a bad mood and he sees you, you can get fined 400 Euros, right? Okay, so when I board, I'm at Rotterdam Centraal and the train platforms are below. And I get out of a subway and go upstairs, and then have to go downstairs to catch the train. And I know the train will leave in one or two minutes, so I start jogging to get my train. But if I'm jogging too slow, I'm not looking at my watch, I'm just thinking, I'm going to make that train. So I get on the platform, and I see the doors are open and so I just go for it. But once it happened that the doors just started closing and almost caught my backpack, because I don't hear the conductor whistling, right? So I wrote an idea, why don't those doors just have a flashing light? That just says doors are closing so you can see it's closing. Or when you're sitting in a train and that's one thing we do struggle with, there are delays, oh God. So then I'm sitting in the train and there is a delay And every train carriage has a screen, and it usually will show, we are here right now, we are stopping right here right now, but if there is a delay or something happens, you don't read on the screen what happened. So the conductor will just, like, travelers we are stuck here because car side crash right now, so we have to wait, for example. But it's not on the display, so I'm just sitting right here like, what's happening? And the train also has an app on your phone, so you can check live updates. But it will still not help you if you are sitting in one train stuck in the middle of somewhere and it's not moving. And when you're at the train station, it's big, there are thousands of people that are going, and just constantly calling, oh yeah, we switched, we switched, how do I say that? We switched platforms, so we are not, your train to Rotterdam's not leaving from platform one, it's leaving from 10. So yeah, so that's what I mean adjusting myself to the hearing world. So you know what I do, I just see where everyone is going and I'll start walking behind them.

Matthew: Right, yeah well, look where all these people are going.

Darice: I mean, if the people who are waiting next to me, to get the train, if I see them all walking somewhere, I just follow along. So yeah, just examples of how I have to adjust myself to a hearing world. And sometimes I wonder... Do I keep writing the same thing over and over again, indefinitely?

Matthew: In short answer, yes, because it will be the first time a lot of people will learn it and for the rest, the repetition will allow them to understand the importance of it. 

Darice: Right, you just keep going at it. Right... That's a lot to think about, yeah.

Matthew: Well... It's back to the patience and the empathy, which is weird to say about people who are essentially entirely able.

Darice: Empathy for the able bodied people I have something in my mind but I better not say it out loud.

Matthew: No, no, no, you can say it, you can say it, come on, come on.

Darice: I mean, it's just understanding versus pity. But sometimes ignorance, right? It doesn't happen to me, but many deaf people say when they tell the stewardess, or the waitress at the restaurant, you know, I'm deaf and they go, oh, oh yeah, I'm going to get a Braille menu for you. So what must one think then? Is it stupidity, is it ignorance? It's hard to say. Yeah, let's call it ignorance. And there's also the thing that able-bodied people feel like like they know better. Like, when I'm out with people, I'd rather not have them speak for me. You know what I mean? Like, I'm gonna order food, just let me deal with ordering my food. And if I ask you for help, you may help me. But don't do it for me. And it's the same thing, a lot of people who are in a wheelchair and they can just push them along and then somebody will come--

Matthew: Oh yeah, no, no, no, no.

Darice: Right, like no, no, no, no, you don't do that. Or maybe people are parking in the handicapped spot and they just open the door and they walk away. And there are people who get mad, you are walking But maybe that person is only able to walk a short distance. Or when people who are blind and they are walking with how do you call it in English, the little stick?

Matthew: Oh yeah, a cane?

Darice: A cane, right. And they have their iPhone with them because the iPhone is an excellent gadget for people who are blind, I mean, I met a blind guy once and he had his iPhone with him, so he could hear my translated typing. And so we explained to him, And so in no time, Siri had for him our information. So they are very, very, very good at using the iPhone. And what happens is that people see someone who is walking with a cane and using an iPhone, and they are going to be like, well you cannot really be blind, you are using a phone. So yes, that ignorance, oh man. Just trust people with a disability to know what they need at they are disabled. But it's very hard to not really go to that stupid, offensive direction.

Matthew: Yup, I guess it all comes down to what our motivations are. Do we want to burn someone for their stupidity? Or do we want to move them to a better place? One is more fun, one is more work.

Darice: Yeah, I've not got a habit of burning people. Sometimes we need to let out the rage, but you do that with people you trust I'm not gonna do that on Twitter. I often don't feel comfortable when I see other people who are disabled really burn someone, but sometimes I do understand, sometimes I do understand because it can hurt one deeply. So due to the new accessibility and inclusivity law in the Netherlands, the blind dogs, blind leading dogs, should be allowed everywhere. And this person went to a restaurant, here in my town with her dog, and the owner refused her service. So he didn't want a dog in the place. And that person got so mad, and they went on Twitter and said, you know, this place... And I understand that it's very, very offensive and people are hurting and you feel very much powerless when something like that happens to you. So I can understand why someone would go on Twitter and let it out.

Matthew: It's hurtful to be told you don't belong.

Darice: Right, yes, yes. Yes, I think empathy, but I don't know if they understand how hurtful that can be. But maybe that person doesn't think too much about refusing someone but, it hurts a lot. Even small things. I forgot that I have an example, just recently but I completely forgot about it right now. I had it happen to me but I can't remember it right now, so it might be I just blocked that thing off. But for me, one hurtful example for me, I have a very good example from here. At the Dutch movies, at the cinemas, so mostly Hollywood movies, cartoons, Disney, everything and it's with Dutch subtitles, right? But like children's movies, cartoons, Pixar and Disney, they are dubbed to Dutch, so they don't have subtitles. I have a four year old nephew who loves going to the movies, but I can never take him, because taking him means that I will be paying five Euros and sit for an hour and a half in a movie and not be able to follow. And there's also Dutch movies, several Dutch movies, but none of them are captioned. None of them have subtitles. So if there is a new Dutch movie, I cannot see it because it's not accessible to deaf people. And I find that hurtful because I have this nephew, I want to spend time with him, and he loves going to the movies, I love going to the movies too, I love Pixar movies, but I cannot go with him because it's not accessible to me. So that kind of thing hurts me and that's why I very seldom go to the movies. I mean, Captain Marvelous is at the movies now, I think I'm gonna see that one, but as a rule, I never go to the cinemas, no, because of that, at the end, yes. Right... I want to go back to you because I saw you put something about yourself.

Matthew: Oh, yeah.

Darice: You struggle with anxiety?

Matthew: Yes, so it's the feeling of not belonging that I experience.

Darice: I get it, I get it.

Matthew: It's a small thing but it does impact how I experience the world.

Darice: I also suffer from anxiety, but with hard work you learn to control it. I think it's also about being able to say it because a lot of people do not like talking about their own insecurities. Like, there are not a lot of people who will come out and say, I suffer from anxiety, or I suffer from depression, and it's starting to get better on that, but mostly, I experience that a lot. Once they asked me to do a talk, about, yes you are deaf, and you are chronically ill and you also have a job, and so I submitted my proposal of how to do the talk. It was very neutral, it wasn't a positivity party but it wasn't either a negative down party, it was just neutral. And they kind of suggested, I don't know, it was weird. Like, maybe you don't want to talk about it yet? They told me, but I actually wrote down what I wanted to talk about just as my message. So then I went to talk with someone else who's chronically ill, and she taught me this word, they want inspiration porn. So you can talk about your deafness, but it must be inspirational, you overcame! But life is not like that, right? I'm sure, I'm half unsure, I'm sure I've lived a good life, but that doesn't mean it's easy. And I mean even if you're abled, you have some shit days, so, add to that that you are disabled, I mean some days are just not gonna be fun. And somehow they don't, a lot of people don't want to hear that. So if you want to talk about your anxiety, they'd rather hear about how well you're doing in spite of it instead of the badness, right? So we need to let go of that, everything is happy, everything is to be positive and hustling and bustling because life's not like that.

Matthew: I have started responding to, "how's it going?" with "good", even if it isn't.

Darice: It's very much like that. Me, I interact with someone else Instagram, she also lives in the Netherlands and we saw, stop answering, good.

Matthew: Oh, I know, I know.

Darice: Because it's a cultural thing, I think it's everywhere. When people ask you how you are doing, they are not expecting you to actually answer how you are doing, right? Like, just like, please tell me only good and if you say well, you know I, oh, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. I think, of course, there is a level I mean, you shouldn't throw it all out. I understand that it's a modicum of things, but you should be allowed to tell someone, you know what, I'm not having such a good day.

Matthew: Because it can be a burden to others in a way.

Darice: Right, I mean, that's what we have family for, we burden them.

Matthew: Yeah they have to listen.

Darice: But, I mean, if it's a friend, or someone you see often, and they ask you how you're doing, it should be acceptable and normal for you to tell the person, you know, not so good today, because I ought to feel that when I'm not having a very good day and people ask me how I'm doing, I tell them "Im good", and then I have to keep that appearance all the way back into town. So we're just burden on ourself then.

Matthew: I know, now I have to be in a good mood for this meeting.

Darice: I know, at work, I somewhat let go of pretense. If I'm not really in the mood then I'll be very quiet, I'll barely open my mouth if I'm not in a good mood. So I just do my job, and I go home. 

Matthew: Thanks for watching my interview with Darice de Cuba. I hope you enjoyed it. We talked about a lot of different things but they were all related. And I thought pretty important to talk about This brings us to the end of Season 1 "We Can do Better". I hope you enjoyed the season. We will be back after a couple of weeks with Season 2 and another ten episode run. Until what this says (points to subscribing)

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